South Africa’s health department on Monday said it was changing COVID-19 vaccination rules in order to increase uptake.
It added that it was considering the option because inoculations had slowed and the country had ample vaccine stocks.
The government was shortening the interval between the first and second doses of the Pfizer (PFE.N) vaccine from 42 days to 21 days, it said.
It added that it was planning to allow people who had received two doses of Pfizer to get a booster dose three months after their second shot as opposed to six months previously.
The government also said that it would be offering the option of “mixing and matching” booster jabs, with adults who were given one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) (J&J) vaccine being offered either a J&J or Pfizer booster two months after their J&J shot.
“Adults who received two doses of Pfizer will be allowed J&J as well as Pfizer as a third dose.
“The decision regarding which vaccine to administer as a booster should be guided by vaccine availability,” the health department said in a statement.
It added that if both vaccines were available at a vaccination site, then using the same vaccine would be preferred.
An exception could be made if the vaccinee requests a different booster dose or has a history of experiencing an adverse event following immunization, it said.
South Africa has recorded the highest Coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent.
It has so far fully vaccinated 28 per cent of its roughly 60 million population, or 42 per cent of its 40 million adults. That was a far greater percentage than many other African countries but well short of government’s targets.
The department said, “Its vaccination campaign, using the J&J and Pfizer vaccines, got off to a slow start due to difficulties securing early supplies, but more recently it has been dogged by hesitancy.’’ (Reuters/NAN)